Estrada vows to hasten Binondo redevelopment
Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has pledged to members of the Filipino-Chinese community he will speed up the redevelopment of Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown.
In his speech during the Chinese New Year’s Eve Countdown at Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Estrada said he will spend his last years in office “beautifying and improving” this old Chinese enclave and hub of commerce.
“As mayor of Manila I have made it one of my top priorities to redevelop Binondo and surrounding areas, because Binondo is the oldest Chinatown outside of China,” he said.
“That’s why we are proud of Binondo. This is what we are going to fix,” the mayor added of the district, established in 1594 by the Spaniards.
By next month, Estrada said the city government will introduce electric tricycles or E-trikes in the streets of Binondo to attract local and foreign tourists and boost local businesses.
Binondo is one of the priority areas of the Estrada administration’s Urban Renewal Program, aimed at reviving Manila’s “old beauty and glory.”
“We will continue to undertake a massive cleanup and rehabilitation here in Binondo, so that all tourists can go here and give us more business,” the mayor said.
Estrada, accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, led the grand Chinese New Year’s Eve Countdown with a great firework display and the traditional dragon and lion dances. The two leaders later distributed “tikoy” (Chinese sticky cakes) to the crowd.
“We’re looking forward to another year of possibilities, and because the Chinese community here in Manila is the largest and oldest community in the world, its custom and traditions have become part of our national heritage,” Estrada stressed in his message.
For his part, Zhao conveyed the Chinese government’s gratitude to the Philippines and the City of Manila for enhancing bilateral relations with China.
“A new beginning signals new changes and new opportunities,” Zhao said in his message. “Let’s work together to make sure the Year of the Fire Rooster will give every one of us good luck and good fortune.”
With Philippine-China ties getting stronger, Zhao said “more bridges will be built, more railways will be built, and more Chinese tourists will come, that means more rapid progress for the Philippines.”
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev also graced the countdown, thanking Estrada for inviting him to the event.
“It’s a big pleasure to be present tonight with you, and celebrate with you this great holiday,” Khovaev said. “In this occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best, to have a more prosperous year, happiness and good health to all of you, to all your family, to all your loved ones, and I strongly believe that our future will be better and in the future all of us achieve new success.”
Estrada and Zhao also led the Chinese New Year Grand Float Parade that started from Magallanes Drive up to Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo.
Manila Tourism and Cultural Affairs Bureau chief Liz Villaseñor said over 50 elaborate floats celebrating Fil-Sino relations took part in the grand parade.
“It would highlight the friendship… The Mayor is always saying the Filipino-Chinese community is supportive of the city government of Manila, so in return we also give our due respect to them by giving them this kind of festivity.” Villaseñor said.